Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

September 29, 2016

Teaching at Pitt

Document6 copy

Time management in the classroom

“Where did the time go?”

Have you ever realized that class was almost over, but you haven’t even gotten halfway through what you planned? Or maybe you covered material that you expected would take up the whole class, but you’ve finished and there are still 15 minutes remaining. Time management can be challenging for both first-time and seasoned instructors. Effective time management can help you help your students to meet course learning objectives.

Begin by crafting a lesson plan with a time sequence of activities. A lesson plan is not the same thing as lecture notes: rather, it specifies what both you and your students will be doing, when, and in what order. Some instructors may object because they want flexibility to make changes in response to a discussion, or to adjust if students haven’t come prepared. A time sequence of events is a strategic plan, a plan you have determined in advance that will be most effective in meeting the class goals. If you need to deviate from that plan, you will be better equipped to determine when changes are appropriate. Can you alter the plan and still meet the learning objectives for the day? Apart from lesson planning, here are additional suggestions for managing your time:

• Arrive to class early to allow time for set-up, especially for any technology you plan to use.

• Use a timekeeping device that works for you: an in-room clock, your watch or the clock on your computer or in your PowerPoint presentation.

• In your lesson plan, identify “check-in” points roughly every 10-15 minutes so that you are aware that you are moving too quickly or slowly while there is still time to adjust.

• Try to identify opportunities for greater efficiency for your administrative tasks. Consider handing out graded quizzes before class begins; asking students to drop off homework as they enter the class; and make announcements via CourseWeb rather than in class, when appropriate.

• Plan how you will transition between activities. If you are planning to do a PowerPoint lecture and then show a YouTube video, cue up the video in advance to avoid watching any commercials.

• Make sure that you have explained instructions for small-group or individual activities before you set the students to task. Consider putting the instructions on a slide or white board. Otherwise you may have to interrupt the class to explain instructions again.

Plan how and when you address student questions. If the question is relevant only to that particular student’s situation, you may wish to defer the question to after class. Avoid getting distracted by non-class-related questions, when possible. It is OK to say, “That’s an interesting question, but it’s not something we’re attempting to address in this class.”
Remember that it is OK to move on. Many instructors feel that, if their students are talking and engaged, they should keep the conversation going. But remember that you’ve designed the class to meet specific objectives. You’ve established a plan for that reason, and you may have other activities coming up that will allow students to participate more later. n
Joel Brady is a teaching consultant and coordinator of TA services for the University Center for Teaching and Learning.

Leave a Reply